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Behind the Curtain

July 30, 2004

Go balloons! Go balloons!

They forgot to drop the balloons last night, and the producer got angry, and CNN got it on tape, reports AP:

"'Go balloons,' said convention producer Don Mischer, instructing the balloon droppers. 'Go balloons. Go balloons!' His voice was becoming increasingly frantic - and it was going out over CNN.

'I don't see anything happening,' he said angrily. Unknown to him, CNN was running his name and title across the bottom of the screen."

Behind the Curtain is exhausted by now -- exhausted by political speeches, political reporters, political celebrities, political talking points, political "debates," political polls, political pundits, political parties and political Parties. And balloons.

Exhausted by the likes of the polymath Matt Lauer telling him The Meaning of Kerry's Speech just minutes after (or was it before?) an update on the Kobe trial (or was it Scott Peterson?). Exhausted by Chris Matthews and Andrea Mitchell and Willie Brown and Marc Racicot (pronounced "Rosco" -- can anyone explain this to BTC? Schwitters: you must know). Exhausted by the fact that the future of the country will probably be decided by a few thousand voters in Ohio. Exhausted by the words "battleground" and "war chest" and "red meat" and "stronger at home and respected abroad" and "527s" and "bounce" and "flip-flopper" and all the other insidery code words that rarely mean what they really mean.

And the fun has just begun.

Sen. John Kerry accepted the Democratic nomination last night in a speech that was delivered awkwardly at times but had its moments. The man isn't a great orator, but we should keep in mind that the hype surrounding the speech had little to do with determining whether or not he can lead us in war or solve the budget mess and a lot to do with TV ratings, like the Super Bowl or the "Survivor" (or "The Bachelor") finale.

Still, these speeches are a decent measure of whether the candidate can lead and inspire.

So watch it on C-Span and decide for yourself.

During the speech BTC was busy reading real-time commentary from a select group of readers and posting it to our Web site, so his judgment shouldn't be trusted (nor should it ever!).

From what we did see, Kerry was sweating a lot (shades of Nixon during the '60 debate?) and looked like he was shuffling his feet. But he used 45 minutes to introduce himself to the American public (he's a Vietnam veteran -- did you catch that?) and made lots of declarative sentences, both big pluses for him.

He played up "patriotism," "faith," "family" and national defense in the hopes of neutralizing these Republican "themes." He used variations of the word "strength" 17 times, according to The New York Times (whose job was it to count?)

"You see that flag up there. We call her Old Glory. The stars and stripes forever. I fought under that flag, as did so many of you here and all across our country. That flag flew from the gun turret right behind my head. It was shot through and through and tattered, but it never ceased to wave in the wind. It draped the caskets of men I served with and friends I grew up with. For us, that flag is the most powerful symbol of who we are and what we believe in. Our strength. Our diversity. Our love of country. All that makes America both great and good. That flag doesn't belong to any president. It doesn't belong to any ideology and it doesn't belong to any political party. It belongs to all the American people."

"For four years, we've heard a lot of talk about values. But values spoken without actions taken are just slogans. Values are not just words. They're what we live by. They're about the causes we champion and the people we fight for. And it is time for those who talk about family values to start valuing families."

Kerry also said he'd "restore trust and credibility" to the White House, a very explicit echo of a Bush 2000 slogan ("restore honor and dignity.") You might just hear every challenger say it every four years from now on, given the veracity challenges of being the president.

Kerry also mentioned a "new birth of freedom," a Lincoln line used to zero effect by Steve Forbes in 2000. You think Kerry's a bad campaigner? You should see Forbes! The man had to pay his "volunteers" -- and handsomely.

Here's the text

David Postman reports that Kerry and Edwards will be here next month.

They'll be here in about two weeks.

Kerry's problem, as campaign Chairman Marc Racicot ("Rosco") demonstrated this morning when he toyed with Matt Lauer on "Today," is his 20-year Senate record. As Bob Dole has said, running for president as a senator is difficult because in the Senate you make lots of votes -- thousands -- for lots of different reasons. You trade them, you make a statement, you help a constituent. Then there are the votes (the key ones being the vote in favor of the Iraq war resolution and against the $87 billion supplemental for the war) Kerry will be continually challenged on. Every day he has to explain these votes (like cutting intel or defense in the 90s) is a day he can't focus on his message that Bush has failed and should be fired.

Them's the rules.

President Bush is back on the trail.

"Offering broad outlines of his re-election agenda, President Bush is promising better times and fresh ideas as he focuses on helping Americans adjust to the changing economy.

Opening a new phase of his campaign, the president will try to energize supporters in heavily Republican parts of Missouri and Michigan on Friday, a day after the Democratic Party's convention ended with the nomination of rival John Kerry.

Bush did not stay up to watch Kerry's convention address but read and saw reports about it, spokesman Scott McClellan said. Adviser Karl Rove watched the speech, McClellan told reporters.

'I think the senator of Massachusetts is a walking contradiction,' McClellan said. Although he called the speech 'nicely crafted,' he criticized Kerry's Senate record and said Kerry is 'running as fast and as far as he can from that record.'

We've got lots of catching up to do on state and regional politics, as the convention has kept us busy with Kerry and the Democrats. Look for good local and regional stuff over the weekend and early next week.

Keep checking back. We'll have fun.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 09:40 AM

July 29, 2004

JibJab update

We introduced you to this election parody of Woodie Guthrie's "This Land," which by now you've seen.

The song's copyright owners have sent the Spiridellis brothers, who created the animated short, a cease-and-desist letter, and threatened a lawsuit.

Wired has it here.

Interesting kicker quote:

"According to various Internet sources, including the website of the Museum of Musical Instruments in Santa Cruz, California, Guthrie allegedly wrote, 'This song is copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of Copyright #154085, for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause we don't give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that's all we wanted to do.'"

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 04:12 PM

Cheney, Kerry here, P. Diddy

Meanwhile, Dick Cheney continues campaigning throughout the West, which the Republicans hope to dominate in November.

From The New York Times:

"When Vice President Dick Cheney was handed a Utah Jazz jersey at a fund-raising lunch here Wednesday, he turned the conversation to John Kerry. 'I am not sure I should put that on,' Mr. Cheney joked. 'I might look like John Kerry did yesterday in that suit down at Cape Canaveral,' he said in an allusion to Senator Kerry's appearance in a blue protective suit during a visit to the NASA facility. Mr. Cheney broke the tradition of lying low during the opposing party's convention by heading out on a four-day tour through the West, warming up the crowd at each stop by comparing his own balding, septuagenarian look with the youthful appearance of the Democratic vice-presidential candidate, Sen. John Edwards. Alluding to talk that Mr. Edwards was 'charming, good looking and sexy,' Mr. Cheney asked, 'How do you think I got this job?' In Salt Lake City, he hammed it up, adding, 'It always bothers me when people laugh at that line.'"

David Postman reports on a Kerry Western states campaign briefing he received this morning. The Kerry campaign is paying particular attention to the Spokane TV market, they said, because Bill Clinton won there by a sliver in 1996, whereas Al Gore lost by 17 points in 2000. They think having former Astronaut John Glenn (check out this Onion story) and Gen. Wesley Clark, campaign there, will help them, as will Kerry's more gun-friendly attitude.

Also, Kerry will be coming to Seattle next month, at the tail end of a coast-to-coast tour. From here on out, Kerry can only spend the $76 million he gets in public financing. Bush will face the same restraints, but not until after his convention in early September. So Kerry's people said they'll go dark in August, relying on free media, state campaigns, and private groups to get their message out. They're likely subverting the spirit, if not the letter, of the campaign finance law, but you won't hear liberals complaining. Relatedly, The Wall Street Journal reports (subscription required) nationally what Postman and Justin Mayo reported statewide here earlier in the week. The story says Kerry and the Democrats have achieved parity with the Republicans via new money -- young, tech friendly, socially liberal Dems.

Postman also reports a P. Diddy sighting this morning on the convention floor. He was wearing a "Vote or Die" T-shirt and surrounded with a healthy entourage. He's shoo-in to be a mayoral candidate in New York City, and you heard it here.

When Puff was giving a solo interview with Ron Brownstein of the LA Times, Postman said he took a digital photo, and took out his notebook. The bodyguard shooed him off, calling it "rude." Others were met with the same treatment. The bodyguard apologized and said he had to say that. "If I don't say that, I get in trouble." Since when are interviews in the FleetCenter "private"?

A young woman had tears in her eyes waiting to meet him, Postman said.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 02:48 PM

Behind the Curtain

Worried we're a threat to his brand, the Poliblog in Alabama has asked we change our name.

So we are.

Behind the Curtain.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 02:30 PM


Here are two pieces on what a John Kerry foreign policy would be like, one in The New Yorker, the other in The Atlantic, two liberal, Eastern Establishment magazines. They both contend Kerry's foreign policy would be a return to what is called realism, or RealPolitik, the belief that American security and interests can be best leveraged in a web of alliances, in which countries are drawn together by mutual self-interest. It's called cynical by its critics, who want to spread American democracy around the globe, by force if need be.

Bear with us, because there's a payoff of rich irony.

Here's Josh Marshall, writing in The Atlantic:

"George H.W. Bush has receded into history. But his Administration's traditional if unimaginative attitude toward foreign relations lives on through his National Security Adviser, Brent Scowcroft, who re-emerged two years ago as one of the most unabashed and difficult-to-dismiss critics of the buildup to war in Iraq. Democrats once viewed Scowcroft as the champion of an amoral and shortsighted foreign policy that sacrificed American values in order to achieve stable relations with great powers and avoid trouble in hot spots like the Balkans (a view, incidentally, shared by many of the neoconservatives who surround the current President). It was Scowcroft who secretly traveled to Beijing shortly after the Tiananmen Square massacre to reassure the Chinese that government-to-government relations needn't suffer despite the bipartisan indignation of the American public. But in 2002, lacking a consistent criticism of the drive toward war, many Democrats eagerly took shelter in Scowcroft's high-profile opposition."

After listening to Dan Feldman, a high level Kerry adviser, talk about Kerry's foreign policy, Marshall describes the conversation:

"'What you're describing to me sounds a lot like what I'd expect from Brent Scowcroft.'

'Yes,' he said. 'I think a lot of what you'd see from a Kerry Administration might be like that. I think there'd be a lot of similarities.' When I later made the same suggestion to Kerry's chief foreign-policy adviser, Rand Beers, he agreed."

In other words, Kerry is running as Bush's father -- on foreign policy, anyway.

The New Yorker story quotes Kerry as being incredulous that President Bush has ignored the foreign policy lessons of his father and Scowcroft; he then speaks of the lessons of Metternich and Henry Kissinger, two more purveyors of RealPolitik.

Another great irony here is that John Kerry got his political start testifying in front of Congress against the Vietnam War, being prosecuted at the time by Richard Nixon and his national security adviser -- Henry Kissinger.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 11:34 AM

Strong stronger strongest strength strengther strengthest

Sen. John Edwards, the one-termer from North Carolina and Sen. John Kerry's choice of running mate, made his case last night, with his usual charisma, weaving some old themes into some new ones.

Edwards won over crowds, even some Republican commentators, during the primaries, with his presentation of what he calls the "Two Americas" -- the one set for life, the other living paycheck to paycheck. He actually had the audacity to talk about poverty, a fairly taboo topic in politics these days. Even though he delivered mostly a set of platitudes ("Hope is on the way...because this is America, where everything is possible...."), he's a great orator, his skills honed over years working over juries, who often gave his clients millions of dollars in their personal injury cases against doctors, insurance companies and corporations. Republicans have attacked him for being a trial lawyer.

Poliblog saw Edwards at a union hall in Seattle in the early spring of 2003. Last night, it seemed Edwards may be more comfortable with a smaller audience, where he can connect with people -- and especially women -- in a more personal way, though one can't be blamed with still learning how to speak to 15,000 people.

Last night Edwards also tried to bolster Democratic bona fides on national defense, something he rarely talked about during the primary campaign. "You cannot run. You cannot hide. We will destroy you," he said of America's enemies.

As David Postman reports this morning, this is all part of Kerry's case that he will be a more effective national defense president than President Bush, a case he's tried to make trotting out the likes of Gen. John Shalikashvili, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for President Clinton, and a Steilacoom, Pierce County resident, who spoke on Kerry's behalf last night. Kerry trails in polls to Bush on the issue of the Iraq war and the war on terrorism. One recent poll had one-third of Americans unaware that Kerry is a Vietnam veteran.

Maureen Dowd, writing in today's New York Times, dished that President Clinton told people at a late-night party that he doesn't think Kerry has persuaded independent voters that he's tough enough on national defense. Voters prefer strong and wrong over weak and right, Clinton likes to say.

The convention has been a well-produced attempt to win over these independent voters in states like Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida, Wisconsin, Nevada, New Hampshire, Iowa, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington (roughly in order of importance). That's where the election is more than likely to be decided.

Speakers at the convention have used the words "strong/strength" 141 times; "hope" 98; "health care" 161; "values" 89 times. These words have been market tested, to be sure.

Tonight, expect Kerry to continue this theme, beginning with his old Navy shipmates. Poliblog saw the writing on the wall in Iowa, where Kerry began his victory march, watching C-Span in January, when Jim Rasmussen, a lifelong Republican from Oregon, told the story of Kerry saving his life in Vietnam. Rasmussen called the campaign unsolicited, and they flew him out.

In 1960, during the height of the Cold War, Jack Kennedy ran to the right of Richard Nixon, of all people, on national defense, claiming -- falsely -- that the Eisenhower-Nixon administration had allowed the Russians to build up a "missile gap" -- an arms advantage. Kerry seems to be trying the same ploy (though we're not suggesting mendacity here.)

(In the bonus scenes of "Fog of War," Robert McNamara, Kennedy's Secretary of Defense, recalls telling the press on his first day on the job that there was no missile gap. It's an amusing scene, though must not have been for Nixon.)

Kerry's been given great leeway to maneuver on national defense by the Democratic base, which usually spends a good chunk of its convention talking about interest group politics: abortion rights, gay rights, civil rights, the environment, labor rights. This time, they've convened to get Kerry elected, or get President Bush out of office, anyway.

His speech will be written by Bob Shrum, who's written speeches for seven Democratic nominees -- most recently Al Gore -- none of whom has ever won. Ted Kennedy has used him forever, and Poliblog had to wonder whether Kennedy's speech Tuesday night, which lacked rhythm and cadence, was mostly lacking Shrum. (Kennedy lent Kerry all his best people, including Shrum, back in December, when his campaign was flailing.)
Here's a profile (subscription required.)

A final note on TV coverage. Poliblog just signed up for cable, and though he admits to being a junkie, switching back and forth between CNN, Fox News and MSNBC, he often settles on C-Span. The TV pundits never tire of telling us what to think, while ignoring, to the best of their abilities, substantive issues. How many times did we see Teresa Heinz Kerry telling a reporter to "shove it." And why do they keep using the term "red meat"? And what, precisely, did Chris Matthews mean when he said of stem cell research, "I know the metaphysical questions surrounding this issue, and I understand them thoroughly." Oh, really?

Plenty more later.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 09:44 AM

July 28, 2004

Backyard Bloggers: still time to apply

A reminder, we're still taking applications for our Backyard Bloggers.

To wit.

"We're looking for contributors 35 and younger who are following the '04 campaigns ó national, regional and local. Each participant will be given a blog on and periodically appear in The Seattle Times.

This is not a soapbox for your political agenda, a training ground for wannabe journalists or a platform for spin. It's a chance to let others know how the campaigns are playing out in your backyard.

We're looking for volunteers from around the state and across the political spectrum. There's no pay involved; only a chance to make the voice of your community heard."

Apply here.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 03:45 PM

Daily Show

Now that you've all swallowed your medicine (the issues), you get your sundae, a roundup of "Daily Show" coverage.

Just off the phone with David Postman, who reports that yesterday he saw Ed Helms, a fake news corespondent for Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," interviewing Michael Murphy, the actor who played Jack Tanner, a fake politician (redundancy?) from a Robert Altman fake reality TV series called "Tanner '88."

Once again, a faker interviewing a faker about playing a faker on a fake real TV show.

The real reporter (we swear), David Postman, says he saw the fake reporter ask the fake candidate, "Do you like Jack?"

Murphy, the real actor, said yes, he does, about the fake candidate.

"The Daily Show" kicked off its coverage last night with reports from all over the convention floor and Boston. Postman reports that the fake reporters seem to be working harder than the real reporters in Boston, at least in the mornings.

Correspondent Rob Corrdry was shot through a cannon and said he'd be covering the "empty pageantry of this meaningless affair." He later took us on a tour of Boston, which amounted to his getting drunk and desperately -- and pathetically -- looking for his old prom date.

Jon Stewart noted that Monday night, billed as "John Kerry and John Edwards' plan for the future" was lacking only John Kerry, John Edwards and a plan for the future.

Steven Colbert took us through the Democratic nominating process, reminding us how weak and weird the field was (Sen. Joe Lieberman in New Hampshire: "I'm proud to tell you we are in a three-way split decision for third-place.")

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 02:49 PM

The speeches

Go here (scroll down to just above the Money Watch) and you can watch part of Barack Obama and Teresa Heinz Kerry's speeches. Obama's is especially worth watching.

And here's text of the speeches.

Teresa Heinz Kerry

Ron Reagan, who spoke about stem-cell research

Poliblog must admit, he never thought the stem-cell issue would amount to anything, but Ronald Reagan's funeral (ironically enough, for Republicans) seems to have mattered in this debate. Nancy and Ron Reagan have been very public on the issue, and very public in their criticism of President Bush's decision to stop federal funding for stem cell lines not already in existence.

Barack Obama

Watching Obama, the Illinois senate candidate now running unopposed, Poliblog was reminded of Norman Mailer writing about Eugene McCarthy at the 1960 Democratic convention. He compared McCarthy to a bullfighter, as Mailer would. "...gathering (the crowd's) emotion, discharging it, creating new emotion on the wave of the last, driving his passes tighter and tighter as he readied for the kill."

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 02:36 PM

The issues

Through these convention days and during the Republican convention, and during the fall campaign, you'll hear lots of political white noise, charges (Was Bush AWOL?) and countercharges (Did Kerry throw his medals, or his ribbons?) that all amount to nothing, mostly. Distortion, and not the cool kind like out of "Axis: Bold As Love."

We'd like to try to help you focus on the issues. So when we can, we'll try to show you how the candidates are different on the issues that are important.

Here's a start. It's our comparative issues page in the presidential race. We'll be providing as much comprehensive coverage of the incumbent's record, and his challenger's proposals, between now and November. And the same goes for statewide races.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 11:28 AM

Democratic convention, day two

Excuse our tardiness this morning.

The Dean of American journalism, David Broder of The Washington Post, reports that Democratic delegates loved last night's fresh faces:

"On the second night of its national convention, the Democratic Party introduced two newcomers to the nation to set the themes John Kerry hopes will help him win the White House in 2004.

Teresa Heinz Kerry made an emotionally strong case for her husband as a 'fighter' who knows the human costs of war and will not 'mistake stubbornness for strength.'

And in his debut on the national stage, Barack Obama, who is apparently on his way to victory in the Illinois Senate race, electrified the convention hall with a stirring speech touting American unity.

'I say to [Americans] tonight, there's not a liberal America and a conservative America," he said. "There's the United States of America.'"

Who told you Obama would be a big hit with the Dems? Poliblog did!

David Postman reports that Democrats and their fundraisers are being more aggressive this year in their opposition to Ralph Nader, who Dems blame for their 2000 loss:

Trying to learn from what they say were mistakes in running a low-budget, casual campaign against Nader four years ago, organizers are pitching Democratic donors, lobbying state party leaders on the convention floor and promising a professional operation guided by research from one of the Democratic establishment's leading pollsters.

Postman's On Politics column is on former Spokane congressman, Speaker of the House and Ambassador to Japan Tom Foley, who's lost 100 pounds and turned himself into a weightlifter. Here's what's not surprising: He's a lobbyist. Foley is helping Don Barbieri, who's running for the open seat in Foley's old district in Spokane, raise money.

Postman also reports on the chalk graffiti around the FleetCenter. Read one: "Beer and food are a right just like free speech."

True enough.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 10:16 AM

Roundup coming

Morning news roundup, including highlights of last night's festivities at the Democratic convention, soon.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 09:23 AM

July 27, 2004

Our great money database

Just a reminder to check out our Money Watch, which allows you to look up contributions by name, occupation, company and zip code in the presidential, senate, 8th congressional and attorney general races. It's on The Booth right above the photos of Bush and Kerry.

For instance, see what happens when you type in "Sonics" under company.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 06:06 PM

She's excited she's 21

Just off the phone with Lindsay Scola, 21 and a Washington delegate at the convention. She works with Washington Conservation Voters. She was all gushy about Bill Clinton's speech last night -- "the most powerful, emotional speech I've ever seen" -- and said it was the talk of the convention.

After the official program ended, she went to the Microsoft party at the Kennedy Library until about 1 a.m. and then New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson's party, which included salsa dancing, until about 3:30, she said.

Sour drinks are the thing, she reported. (Why is Poliblog stuck at this desk?)

The security isn't as bad as she thought, mostly just like airport security (that's not very reassuring, if you read The Times recent investigation.)

During the day, Scola's been going to activist training, sponsored by the Democratic Party and groups like Emily's List.

The focus: single women, who were the most absent voters in 2000, according to pretty good polling data, and are fertile ground for the Dems.

The food at the parties has been good, she reported: fresh East Coast seafood, and Spanish food last night.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 04:51 PM

Reader response

Responding to our first question, which asked readers to recall their first political memory, Tom Nelson, all the way from Torquay, Australia, recalls "Standing in a voting line at my local school with my father for the Stevenson-Eisenhower election in 1952. Two men in front of my father got into an argument about the two candidates and ended up in a fist fight! What this meant to me at the time was fear and some excitment, but also a base understanding that politics was about two distinct opinions and parties (as I also remember the donkey and elephant badges.) I expect it also ingrained the need to vote to make your opinion count."

Writing from Tacoma, John Hathaway recalls "Miss McCraley's second grade class at Whitman Grade School in Tacoma. She lived about half a block from the school and took the entire class to her house to watch the 1952 GOP Convention on her newfangled television set. Yes, the year Eisenhower was elected. I was 7-years old. It had to be arrested developement, because I didn't get involved in politics until 1989."

More reader response to come.

Be sure to answer our current question, here.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 04:10 PM

Bush's Northwest team responds.

Just off the phone with Molly Bordonaro, northwest regional chairwoman of the Bush campaign, who had this to say about the first night of the Democratic convention, which included some tough attacks from Democrats:

"I wasnít surprised because the Democrats have been resorting to an unparalleled level of negative attacks. Kerry said 'Iíll be responsible for the tone.' If he wants to take responsibility, then he has to take responsibility for this being a blatantly negative and personal attack thatís been unprecendented."

"And when Jimmy Carter says maturity should return to the White House, he should be aware of Teresa Heinz Kerry telling a reporter to shove it. They need to be careful with these personal attacks and the word maturity in the same breath."

Bordonaro is referring to an incident yesterday in which Kerry's wife told an editorial writer from a conservative paper to shove it.

There'll be lots of negative attacks, and immaturity in this campaign, on both sides, to be sure. It is politics, after all.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 03:03 PM


Sen. Patty Murray appeared on the podium last night at the convention with the other Democratic women senators, but did not make a speech, as Poliblog claimed she would. Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland made a speech, and the group presented a video about the work they're doing.

Poliblog regrets the error.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 02:28 PM

Liberal talk radio coming to Seattle

From the Convention, David Postman reports:

While smoking a cigarette outside the Fleet Center, Janeane Garafolo told him the liberal talk-radio station Air America, for whom she's a host, will be coming to Seattle soon. Air America and Seattle are a good fit, she said.

No kidding.

She also said the station's business plan is finally in order, and things are looking up.

Stay tuned.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 01:40 PM

Tom Shales, on the coverage

Tom Shales is the TV critic for The Washington Post, and one of the best.

Here he is criticizing the networks for giving only one hour of programming:

"The networks decided not to carry Carter's speech, Nobel Prize winner or not, and to limit opening-night convention coverage to one hour. One hour. The cable networks supposedly take up the slack but it's a system that still bespeaks irresponsibility and shirking of civic duty by the broadcast networks.

They're busy, of course, with their trifling, noisy, violent, demeaning, crass, corny and meaningless summer reruns. The networks complain that the conventions have become repetitious and predictable; and their own programming isn't?"

Here's Shales on some of the inane commentary that has given cable news its singularly stupid signature:

"Back down on the stage, another moving moment of peaceful contemplation: 16-year-old violinist Gabe Lefkowitz playing "Amazing Grace" in memoriam.
People in the crowded hall held up lights or candles or matches. This all made a mockery of Fox anchor Neal Cavuto's imbecilic statement earlier in the day, as he sat in the foreground of the hall, that 'there's a lot of hatred in this room behind me.' He said the convention would be 'predictably partisan.' Gosh! Does that mean the Democrats wouldn't give equal time to Republicans? Heaven help us if the November elections are partisan, too.

'Some of the prime-time lineup appears to be very partisan,' CNN pretty-boy Bill Hemmer told commentator Jeff Greenfield on the network's morning show. Insights like these are so dazzling you really have to step back from the set to avoid having your eyebrows singed."

And, finally, Shales defends the conventions, even if there is no drama like there was in 1968:

"Yes, the role of the political convention has changed, and television changed it years and years ago, and no, it's not likely major decisions will be made on live TV in front of the American people. But we've got enough 'reality TV' now. How about letting the parties put on their shows and sitting back to see which one does the better job? Like there's some insidious harm or danger in that or something."

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 11:31 AM

The Note, what voters don't care about

ABC News has a quirky political site called The Note, which is funny and insidery -- and deeply obnoxious. Its reporters, led by Mark Halperin, revel in mocking the insiders while cleaving to them tightly. Today's post has a great list of stuff you'll hear from TV commentators that TV commentators think matter, but really don't:

Here, according to The Note, is what actual voters are NOT thinking:

Boy. Kerry in that space suit means he's a liberal wimp -- just like Michael Dukakis -- and therefore he cannot be president.

I really can't see how Kerry keeps from being overshadowed by Clinton.

I can't believe the press entrance isn't opening until 6:30 when they promised it would open at 6.

That Ron Reagan, how courageous is he to speak at the Democratic convention.

John Kerry must be as liberal as Ted Kennedy if he's allowing him to speak at his convention.

That speaker is just SO polarizing.

There's no way Barack Obama is as impressive as that New Yorker story made him out to be (Note Note: actually, he is.).

Boy, that Teresa is so outspoken! She can never be First Lady.

Boy, that Teresa is so outspoken! Her husband can never be president.

The breakdown of Senator Kerry's plane is a perfect metaphor for problems in the campaign -- not to mention a development that really calls into question his ability to govern.

When I am not busy working to pay for my parents' prescription drugs and find decent daycare for my kids, I really do need to find the time to decide if I want to switch to an outspoken First Lady.

I wonder how many times John Kerry and John Edwards didn't vote the same way in the Senate.

I'm just not sure the balance between positive Kerry message and the negative jabs at President Bush is really all that good so far.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 11:21 AM

Tonight's schedule, Obama

Here's the schedule for tonight, from CNN:

The highlight should be Barack Obama, a state senator from the south side of Chicago running for an open Senate seat in Illinois, a shoo-in to win at this point given the Republicans don't have a candidate. (Their candidate had to drop out when it was revealed he allegedly took his wife to sex clubs. Then Mike Ditka thought about it, but declined.) Obama is said to be bright, charismatic and connects with people of all stripes, from profiles we've read.

He's the keynoter.
Here's a NY Times profile.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 11:18 AM

Bubba there, Cheney here, Sutherland accuses, Sidran on TV

The Democratic Party convention opened last night with tough attacks on President Bush, led by former President Bill Clinton, the great Republican nemesis. Poliblog was watching Fox News, and noted that Bill Kristol and Fred Barnes, both of the conservative Weekly Standard magazine, conceded it was a humdinger (if "demagogic") and a good start to the week for Democrats.

The spin all weekend was that Kerry had told the speakers to tone it down and lay off attacking President Bush, which always struck Poliblog as a bit dubious. What challenger's convention doesn't hit the incumbent?

Key lines: "We Democrats want to build a world and an America of shared responsibilities and shared opportunities ... where we act alone only when we have to," he said. Republicans, Clinton added, "believe in an America run by the right people - their people - in a world in which America acts unilaterally when we can and cooperates when we have to."

The biggest applause line: "Strength and wisdom are not conflicting values. They go hand in hand."

Bubba came out to his trademark Fleetwood Mac "Don't Stop...."
TV sets were inundated with blunt objects in America's Republican households, to be sure.

Al Gore joked about his 2000 loss, and Sen. Hillary Clinton introduced Bill with a mostly positive speech about Sen. John Kerry. (Hillary and Bill embraced, but no kiss.) The toughest speech may have been given by 80-year old Jimmy Carter, who said it was time to return "judgment" and "maturity" to the Oval.

The Republican response: "Sen. Kerry's 20-year Senate voting record is a long shadow the Democrats will try to hide with lights, camera and rhetoric this week."

The Times David Postman continues to report on Washington state's big political donors. He profiles Joseph Schocken, little known to Democrats here, but a new "friend" of Kerry who's helped raise more than $250k for him. He's new to the game, and an example of the effects of the new campaign finance rules, which force donors to go out and find other donors to make their contributions count.

David will send a dispatch a little later.

In Kennewick, Vice President Cheney raised money for Dino Rossi, who's running for governor here:

"Vice President Dick Cheney criticized Senate Democrats - including John Kerry and John Edwards - yesterday for continuing to block President Bush's judicial nominees. It was a rare partisan jab at the Democrats' presidential ticket in an otherwise low-key appearance at a fund-raising luncheon for Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi, a former state senator. For about 30 minutes, Cheney lauded the Bush administration's record, especially on the economy and the war on terrorism."

Here's the convention schedule for today.

A good statewide story by Jim Brunner: "Public Lands Commissioner Doug Sutherland yesterday accused a top Democratic Party donor of illegally funneling money to the campaign of Sutherland's Democratic challenger, state legislator Mike Cooper."
No smoking gun, Brunner reports.

Also, The Times Beth Kaiman reports that state attorney general candidate Mark Sidran will run TV ads during the Democratic convention, making him the first statewide candidate to run TV ads.

How badly could you possibly want that job?

The PI has a profile of Ron Reagan Jr., who will speak at the Democratic convention tonight about stem-cell research, which offers promising cures for diseases like Alzheimer's, which felled his father. Bush has banned federally-funded research on new stem cell lines.

A final note, Poliblog heard this morning that ratings weren't that good last night, so none of this may matter much, though the Dems were certainly getting good pub last night and this morning.

Check back all day.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 08:55 AM

July 26, 2004


If you've never been to Boston, where the Democratic convention is being held, here are two good stories. In the first, Pam Belluck of The New York Times reports that Boston is trying to slough off stereotypes about itself:

"Such is the caricature of this city, or some of the caricatures, anyway. Stuffy, slow to change, prickly, parochial. Boston has long labored under other stereotypes, too. The conflagration created by court-ordered busing in the 1970's marked it as a racially polarized city. The fact that Massachusetts was the only state to vote for George McGovern for president in 1972, and is the home of the Kennedys and Michael S. Dukakis has typecast Bostonians as litmus-test liberals, weak-kneed in the face of crime and high taxes. Then there is the image of Boston as gritty and pockmarked, plagued by a polluted harbor and choked by traffic as the nation's largest public works project, the Big Dig highway construction extravaganza, has dragged on."

Does this sound at all familiar to Seattle residents?

Boston is now trying to reform that image and sell itself as a center of science and technology, history, a rich public life, cosmopolitanism and great public spaces.

If you've ever been to a Red Sox game at the Fens, you know otherwise. Booing your own players isn't just an option, but a responsibility to be taken on with utmost seriousness. In fact, Sen. John Kerry, the hometown boy, was booed mercilessly last night when he threw out the first pitch before the Yankees game.

Also, this great story in The Wall Street Journal reports that the doughnut is still king in Boston, which has 1,050 doughnut shops, or one store for every 5,750 residents, though that estimate is full of holes, according to the story.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 05:05 PM

Sen. Patty Murray

The incumbent Senator will speak at 5:40 Pacific Time at the Democratic convention, according to her spokeswoman. *** See her on C-Span and some of the cable networks that are running coverage gavel-to-gavel, like PBS, CNN, MSNBC and Fox News.

If her challenger Rep. Georg Nethercutt offers a response, we'll bring it to you.

***Correction: Murray did not make a speech. She appeared on the podium with other women Democratic senators.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 03:59 PM


Vice President Cheney was in Kenniwick earlier today. The AP was there. He's in Portland tomorrow and Yakima Friday. We'll keep you up to date.

Cheney says this election could affect policy for 30 or 40 years to come, and said he expects Republicans to sweep Washington state in November.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 02:26 PM

Who's blogging from the convention:

A comprehensive list.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 01:42 PM

New question for readers

Name someone not in politics, like a civic or business leader, athlete or actor, scientist or thinker, who should run for office.

Answer here.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 11:38 AM

Republicans, there's relief in sight

We know this week must be making you ill. But there'll be a respite later today.

Vice President Cheney is in the Tri-Cities today, and you can be sure he'll hit Sen. John Kerry hard for being soft on defense and terrorism, and for calling for a tax increase to pay for programs. If you want to attend, here's the schedule:

11:30 a.m. The Vice President arrives at Tri-Cities Airport
3601 N. 20th Avenue
Pasco, WA 99301

12:30 p.m. The Vice President delivers remarks at a luncheon for Gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi
Three Rivers Convention Center
7016 W. Granderidge Blvd.
Kennewick, WA 99301

Full story later.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 11:32 AM

Michael Moore insults America's anchors

This from the National Journal's convention hotline.

Michael Moore on the convention floor this morning: "They like to wear flags on their lapels, but how many children of network news executives are in Iraq?... Nine hundred kids are dead because these (expletive) haven't done their job."

--Moore, taking aim at the major television networks this morning in a commotion-causing visit to the FleetCenter floor.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 10:35 AM

Total coverage!

To quote Lacerda, the photographer in "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas":

"We need total coverage!"

So David Postman is giving it to us.

Here's his dispatch:

Rep. Dennis Kucinich, (Poliblog description: a slight but large-eared former presidential candidate), stopped by the Washington delegation breakfast this morning in Boston to blame the media for any suggestion that the Democratic party is less than fully unified behind John Kerry.

Kucinich missed his introduction given by delegate Larry Kalb from Belllingham.

Said Kalb on the question of being committed to Kerry:

"Even though we are committed, we have the conviction of carrying through exactly what Dennis has been saying the past year and a half. That is, we are still against the war in Iraq, we would like to keep our jobs here at home, instead of being exported over seas. We would like to repeal the entirety of the Patriot Act, and we would also like to create the national health care program that would cover everyone."

Kucinich spoke at a what seemed (pre-coffee) like a full roar.

"All over the city they're already saying 'Don't you Democrats disagree on the war?' The media wants to split this party. But you know what? We're not splitting," Kucinich said.

In a sort of nyah, nyah, nyah voice, he warned Democrats about the media hordes. "So when they come around with their little notepads and say, 'Don't you disagree?' We say, 'Sure we do. We reserve the right to disagree, but we also reserve the right to elect John Kerry.'"

Celebrity sightings: Kucinich showed up with actress Mimi Cromwell from "Dharma and Greg" and actor James Cromwell, perhaps best known for his role as the farmer in the movie "Babe." (Ed: "L.A. Confidential" and "Six Feet Under", too, right?)

In the FleetCenter this morning, Richard Dreyfuss, the "Daily Show" corespondents and Jesse Jackson, who seems to be everywhere. Michael Moore was on the floor of the center early this morning. The convention scrum scale may need to be adjusted. It now runs from Joe Biden to Jackson, but Moore may be the new high mark.

You know those little tiny bags of potato chips that come with about a half dozen chips in the them? $2 at the media center. Maybe that's how angry Democrats like Kucinich are getting back at the press. Or maybe it's the porta-potties.

Given that last bit, Poliblog hopes the DNC doesn't turn into Woodstock '99.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 10:19 AM

McDermott the star

Among liberals gathered in Boston for the convention, Congressman Jim McDermott is regarded as a hero, thanks to his loud and vocal opposition to the Iraq war and his appearance in Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11." McDermott told the gathered students that by getting the movie made, "We really saved the Constitution and the Bill of Rights," a claim, as Postman notes, that even the filmmaker hasn't made. He also claimed a military draft is "almost a certainty" in a Bush second term, despite repeated denials by SecDef Donald Rumsfeld.

Tonight, Hillary Clinton will introduce Bill Clinton. Other speakers include Al Gore and former President Jimmy Carter.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 09:41 AM

More on the big donors

Be sure to check in with us all day and all week, as we'll be posting a lot and hearing from David Postman, who's in Boston for the Democratic National Convention; he'll tell us who's serving the best champagne and where the beautiful people are. There's a bunch of fresh posts from yesterday, too, including items on a CBS News/BET poll of black Americans, more on the Alaska senate race, and a state leg. candidate in Spokane who's been indicted.

For day two of his series on the state's big donors, Postman profiles RealNetworks Rob Glaser, whose original purpose in establishing the company was providing liberal content for the Web. Whether he's been successful is arguable, but in any case, he's contributed $1 million in his efforts to defeat President Bush.

Here's day one of the series, which explained that the biggest donors are Democrats giving to independent groups trying to defeat President Bush. So Republicans, don't take any whining from Dems about how you have more money.

Also, our list of the top 50.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 09:39 AM

The Convention begins; the last of its kind?

David Postman set up the convention for us Sunday, noting that Sen. John Kerry must introduce himself to an electorate that still doesn't know much about him (one-third don't know he's a Vietnam vet.) He also has to keep the base fired up, while persuading undecided moderates that he should replace the incumbent.

David Postman and Justin Mayo wrote a great story for Sunday's paper on the state's 50 biggest political donors. Many are new money, and many of the top ten have given huge amounts to independent liberal groups intent on defeating President Bush.

Here's the list:

The New York Times Magazine has a great story that is very related to Postman and Mayo's reporting. Matt Bai (a very good political reporter for the magazine), reports on a group of youngish, extremely wealthy entrepreneurial types out to find $100 million to set up a liberal infrastructure independent of the Democratic Party, much as conservatives have done independently of the Republican Party through their own media, foundations, think tanks, churches, universitities and political action committees.

In this scene, this guy Rappaport is being shown a presentation about how the conservative movement was built over 30 years:

"What Stein showed him when they met was a PowerPoint presentation that laid out step by step, in a series of diagrams a ninth-grader could understand, how conservatives, over a period of 30 years, had managed to build a ''message machine'' that today spends more than $300 million annually to promote its agenda.

Rappaport was blown away by the half-hour-long presentation. 'Man,' he said, 'that's all it took to buy the country?'"

The advantage of operating indendently of the party, as conservatives have come to realize, is that you get to control how the money is spent, rather than handing it over to some dumb party hack.

What this could mean, Bai speculates, is the end of the Democratic Party as we know it, or even, possibly, the end of the Democratic Party.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 08:56 AM

July 25, 2004

Cheney in the Tri-Cities

Vice President Cheney is in the Tri-Cities Monday, to campaign and raise money for Dino Rossi, who's running for governor as a Republican. Here's the sked:
11:30 a.m. The Vice President arrives at Tri-Cities Airport
3601 N. 20th Avenue
Pasco, WA 99301

12:30 p.m. The Vice President delivers remarks at a luncheon for Gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi
Three Rivers Convention Center
7016 W. Granderidge Blvd.
Kennewick, WA 99301

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 03:28 PM

Take the red or blue test

Red or Blue?

Take this quiz to determine whether you're a blue or red stater, and send Poliblog your results at

Poliblog scored in the middle.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 03:27 PM

More on Mike Miller vs. Mike Miller

From the Alaska Daily News, more on the nonSenate candidate taking on the Senate candidate. This is a story that wouldn't be possible 10 years ago, and is just great in so many ways:

The man who holds the Internet address has been fielding e-mails from people trying to reach Republican candidate Mike Miller since around April. That's when the candidate put up his Web site,, which listed his e-mail address incorrectly. The noncandidate fought back and fired off obscene e-mails to the candidate's supporters and contacts who came his way. 'The fact remains they made a stupid mistake, it was up for several months, and because of it, people e-mailed me,' he wrote in his blog. He added that his politics are 'significantly different' from those of the man people mistook him for. Alaska's Miller is a former state Senate president and faces Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the Republican primary. 'They e-mailed me, I mocked them when I e-mailed them back,' the Chicago Miller wrote. 'Hell, I even suggested a number of them make substantial campaign contributions -- can't see how the lier [sic] guy's campaign could be upset with that.' The blog ends, 'In the meantime, thanks for stopping by, and don't forget to vote!'

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 03:25 PM

African-Americans don't like President Bush

President Bush was at the Urban League friday, trying to drum up support among African-American voters, opening with this line, "I'm here to ask for your vote." Poliblog heard him lead off speeches using that line at least 10 times in 2000 (though it was ocassionally alternated with "I'm here to ask for the vote.) The President has some great speechwriters. How bout changing it up a little?

A recent CBS News/BET poll of African-Americans shows he has much work to do with black Americans. The poll has interesting stuff for both Dems and Republicans.

Among the findings: Nine in ten think the country is headed in the wrong direction, and nine in ten think the war in Iraq was not worth the costs. Sen. John Kerry leads President George W. Bush 8 to 1, but these voters have yet to feel a great deal of enthusiasm about their candidate.

African American voters express widespread negative views of President Bush. But this is not much different from black votersí views of George H.W. Bush or Ronald Reagan when they were president.

The number one policy issue -- by a wide margin -- that could mobilize African American voters this year is the economy and jobs.

Strong resentment remains over the 2000 election, but it is fueling motivation to get back to the polls in 2004, and right the wrongs that African-Americans believe took place. Most are more motivated to get to the polls this year because of Florida 2000. More than 4 in 5 believe Bush did not legitimately win the election, and two thirds think there are deliberate attempts made to prevent black votersí votes from being counted.

African Americans generally feel the Democratic Party reaches out to them, though about one-third believe the party takes black voters for granted.

African Americans are somewhat more conservative on the issue of same sex marriage than the nation's voters as a whole. Most believe there should be no legal recognition -- neither marriage nor civil unions -- for same sex couples.

Few African Americans see school vouchers as the primary way to improve education opportunities; most would prefer to see more money spent on public schools, or new districts drawn.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 03:21 PM

Sneed didn't heed, say cops

This from the Spokesman-Review:
"A Spokane candidate for the state Legislature is free on bond after being indicted on eight counts of wire fraud tied to allegations that he defrauded Internet merchandise customers out of more than $125,000. Travis J. Sneed is accused of operating three Internet sites, offering various electronic and computer equipment for sale. 'After receiving payment for the merchandise, Sneed would fail to deliver the merchandise and also would fail to reimburse the customers for their payment,' the indictment alleges. Sneed announced his candidacy in April to challenge Democratic incumbent Alex Wood in this fall's election. Sneed is a former legislative assistant to former state Sen. Jim West, who left the Legislature after being elected mayor of Spokane."

Imagine the ad potential here, if Sneed is guilty (which he may not be, as all defendants are innocent until proven otherwise."

"Sneed delivers...nothing."

"He's a terrible criminal, but he'll make a great politician."

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 03:15 PM

Sims tries to upset Gregoire with...a state income tax

Good piece from The Columbian about gubernatorial candidate Ron Sims' plan -- quixotic? -- to introduce a state income tax, and how it's affecting the race for the Democratic nomination with state Attorney General Christine Gregoire, who has more money and leads in polls. Poliblog mentions Cervantes because an income tax would require a state constitutional amendment, a pretty tough nut with this anti-tax electorate (outside of Seattle-Tacoma, anyway.)

"Sims rejected the suggestion that advocating a state income tax will guarantee defeat. 'In all the polling we've seen, it's moved me favorably,' Sims said. Gregoire's position on taxes resembles that of the leading Republican gubernatorial candidate, former state Sen. Dino Rossi. Gregoire and Rossi oppose an income tax and say they want to reduce business taxes. 'Tax reform as Ron discusses it is a tax increase,' Gregoire said. 'It is not revenue neutral.' Sims said he favors a tax on income and business profits, while doing away with the tax on gross business revenue, a tax he described as 'anti-entrepreneurial.' He also advocates reducing property taxes, and lowering or eliminating the sales tax.... Sims said that under his plan 80 percent of the taxpayers would pay less, 10 percent the same and 10 percent more.'"

The Gates Commission, which was charged with examining the state's tax system, advocated an income tax as well.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 03:10 PM

July 23, 2004

Sen. Murray and Rep. Nethercutt answer our question

Here's the question:
A new book by Craig Unger, "House of Bush House of Saud," claims that American foreign policy in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks has been too easy on Saudi Arabia. How should American relations with Saudi Arabia change, if at all, and how has your voting record or work in Congress reflected this belief, if at all?

Here are the answers:

As the 9/11 commission reported this week, we must openly confront problems with Saudi Arabia to build a relationship beyond oil - so that we can work together to improve security.
Reducing Americansí dependence on foreign sources of oil will strengthen our international position. Currently, Americans are too dependent on foreign sources for oil - and Saudi Arabia has the largest oil reserves in the world. Thatís why we must do more to expand domestic energy production and promote energy conservation and efficiency.
In Congress, Iíve fought to pass a national energy policy that will make energy more affordable and reliable. The national energy plan we passed in the U.S. House of Representatives would promote energy efficiency and conservation. Our plan provides tax incentives for energy saving appliances and renewable energy systems, and promotes increased domestic energy production. Now, the U.S. Senate must act.

Like many nations around the world, our relationship with Saudi Arabia is complicated. While they have allied themselves frequently in defense of Americaís interests, I am troubled by many aspects of Saudi internal policy. I am deeply concerned by the human rights abuses that have occurred in Saudi Arabia as well as the government-sanctioned, institutionalized subordination of women. I am also troubled by the aggressive promotion of fundamentalism in Saudi schools as well as the madrassas throughout the Middle East that are funded with Saudi money. These schools promote a virulent strain of anti-Americanism. I believe that the U.S. government can and should do more to pressure the Saudi government to respect basic human rights and take an active role in promoting peace and stability in the Middle East. I have cosponsored legislation calling on the Saudi government to reform its education system and abandon its promotion of institutionalized hate. If America is to succeed in protecting our interests and acheive peace, stability, and human rights in the Middle East, we must be more aggressive in our efforts to hold these governments, including Saudi Arabia, accountable for their policies.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 04:42 PM

Waiting for November

The 911 commission says we're not safe.

Can't go on. Must go on. Can't go on.

The most disappointing part of the report (which, clearly, Poliblog hasn't read), is that it doesn't have a nifty chart with up arrows and down arrows to tell us the political implications. But we must go on.

Rep. George Nethercutt, challenging Sen. Patty Murray, used the report to blast Murray for voting to cut intelligence spending three times during the nineties, The Times Jim Brunner reports.

Brunner goes on to give some helpful context:
Murray's votes came at a time when some Democrats and Republicans in Congress were increasingly skeptical of the way intelligence agencies were spending taxpayer money. The largest Murray-backed cut singled out by Nethercutt was a budget amendment in 1994 that would have shifted $5.4 billion over five years from intelligence agencies to education and other federal programs. The proposal failed.

Money quote: "When asked about his campaign's attack on Murray, Nethercutt said, 'Well, that wasn't my doing, (it) was my campaign's doing.'

Not My Doing!

Regardless, expect Nethercutt (or his campaign anyway) to bang away on this issue from now until November.

Also this morning, Susan Gilmore reports that King County is "quietly" thinking of putting a tax on the November ballot to pay for roads. The money is needed because of the Eyman Initiative 776, which reduced car tab fees to 30 bucks and gutted the county's transportation dollars.

"The county is considering two taxes, a 2.8-cents-a-gallon increase in the county gas tax to pay for county roads and an increase of one tenth of 1 percent in the sales tax for Metro."

The NY Times' Kit Seelye profiles, rather glowingly, Elizabeth Edwards, wife of Democratic Veep candidate John Edwards, who seems to share some unpretentious qualities of the current first lady, while sharing few with Teresa Heinz Kerry or Lynne Cheney.

"Mrs. Edwards is emerging as a forthright and unpretentious spirit on the hustings, a campaigner who talks freely about coloring the gray out of her hair and struggling with her weight. It is a style that her listeners here praised as a welcome relief from the polished artifice of modern politics."

The Democrats avoided a disaster with an agreement between the city of Boston and the police union, by coming to terms on a contract. Otherwise, they'd be picketing the convention. Cops say they'll still picket some events, but what Boston cop is really going to spend his summer weekend picketing after they've come to terms on a contract?

Later, a poll of African-American voters, and a look ahead at the convention.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 09:16 AM

July 22, 2004

June Fundraising Totals

Dwight Morris, a campaign fundraising guru, has crunched numbers for the 50 states, and we get some idea of how the Dems seem to have achieved some parity with the Republicans for the first time since 92. (Check out the linked Wash. Post story, which gives good analysis.) In Washington state, Kerry raised nearly $625,000 during June, compared to Bush's $97,000. It's worth noting, however, that Bush was finished actively raising money, while Kerry was raising like a crazy fundraising man.

There's some promising investigative reporter in Alabama who will write a good story soon about how in the world Ralph Nader raised $11,000 (donations of $200 or more each) from Alabama in June, his second-highest fundraising state, by far. One would presume there aren't that many Naderites in Alabama, though there might be Republicans happy to see Nader peal away votes from Sen. John Kerry.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 02:32 PM

No, the other Mike Miller

From the Anchorage Daily News:

Thomas Pitzke thought he was just asking his favored candidate for U.S. Senate a reasonable question about security and Israel when he e-mailed Mike Miller a couple of months back through the candidate's Web site. But the answer he received Wednesday stunned him. The e-mail said, "Oh, go (expletive) yourself." It went on to say the author answers smart people first and the people who give him money "firstest." But Republican Mike Miller, of North Pole, hasn't suddenly developed a penchant for obscenity-laced e-mails with frequent use of the f-word. There's an impostor with the same name who is sending offensive replies to people who stumble upon his e-mail address while trying to reach Alaskan Miller. "He must have a little short fuse or something, because his e-mails are not nice," said Michael Pauley, candidate Miller's spokesman.

Cheney language is catching on....

Complete coverage of the Alaska Senate race here:

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 12:34 PM

At the movies, with the Lockes

Poliblog snuck into a party and then the premiere screening of "The Hunting of the President" last night at Cinerama. The documentary was hosted by Gov. Gary Locke, who called it "provocative" three different times and proclaimed his pride in being at the first showing in "the great state of Washington." It's about the attempt to take down the Clintons via "The Arkansas Project" -- the hunt for dirt by the conservative press, a group of conservative lawyers, and their benefactors, principally Richard Mellon Scaife, a rich guy. Though there proved to be no real dirt in Arkansas, the whole thing ended up getting Clinton impeached because of the Lewinsky imbroglio. Here's the alternative view, that Clinton had it coming. The film is based on a book of the same name written by Joe Conason of Salon and The New York Observer, and Gene Lyons, a Little Rock-based magazine and book journalist.

The real question: why was Gov Locke more-or-less endorsing the film, which would seem to appeal more to Seattle's rabid liberals, a segment of the Democratic Party Locke has kept his distance from with his studied moderation.

The answer: his wife, Mona Lee. She was on a girls-getaway-weekend with friends at the Sundance Film Festival (only a lame-duck politician would admit such a thing!), when she saw the film. When she returned to Olympia, she told the Gov he should host a screening, he related. So Democratic bigwigs, as well as Lyons, Thomason, the director Nick Perry and the star of the show, Susan McDougal, drank wine and ate raw tuna with the governor and his wife. (Republican snickering, begin now.)

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 10:06 AM

The other Poliblog

First, a note on the other Poliblog, professor Steven Taylor of Troy State University in Troy, Ala. This Poliblog apologizes to that Poliblog for not taking the simple step of Googling "Poliblog" before we decided on it, but we'd also like to thank professor Taylor for recognizing that the country is big enough for the two of us. So check out the other Poliblog, and bookmark him.

Next, there's five or six bad links among the several hundred to the right, mostly under the blogosphere section. They'll be fixed any minute. Poliblog apologizes.

The big news of the day is the release of the 9/11 commission report, which probably has damning stuff about both the Bush and Clinton administrations, as well as the Republican-led Congress. It's hard to know how this will play out, in fact, impossible to know, until details of the report are clearer. The report's available in PDF format at

A new twist in the Sandy Berger case. Berger is the former Clinton aide turned informal adviser to Sen. John Kerry. He's under investigation for allegedly removing classified documents from the National Archives. He says it was a mistake. We learn this morning that, contrary to a prior denial, the White House knew about the investigation, which began last October. Democrats are accusing the White House of leaking it. White House denies it. The Republicans charge that Berger gave classified info to Kerry (or at least imply it), though Kerry had access to those documents through work on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The Monorail Recall has enough signatures to get on the November ballot. The Monorail saga is beginning to have all the makings of lovely farce.

Expect big turnouts among Seattle liberals in November to hurt its chances, although Poliblog has heard many conventional Seattle liberals express misgivings.

The PI's Charles Pope says the upcoming convention could be important for the Dems: The theory is, people don't know who John Kerry is yet, and so can't make up their minds, or collective Mind, to fire the president and take on a new one. The convention will persuade them, hopeful Democrats say. Pope says the Dems hope to use the convention as a "muscular plaform" for introducing the country to Kerry. Why is everything "muscular" these days?

The Stranger's Sandeep Kaushik looks at the state Republican strategy of moderation and sees one problem: abortion. In a very pro-choice state, gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi, Senate candidate George Nethercutt and attorney general candidate Rob McKenna are all anti-abortion, which could hurt their moderate bona fides, says Kaushik.

Coming soon, hanging out with Gov. Gary Locke at the movies....

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 09:18 AM

July 21, 2004

Otis for City Manager

Someone in Ridgefield is drafting Otis.

From the AP: "RIDGEFIELD, Wash. -- Merchants in this Columbia River town say they have a great relationship with a would-be city manager who strolls through town every day, making sure everything's running smoothly. He's an 11-year-old Boston terrier, and Donna Quall was one of the first to put an 'OTIS FOR CITY MANAGER' sign up in the window of her gift shop earlier this month. 'Otis will have a leg-up on the city council,' the sign declares. 'A doggone improvement.' The signs are all over this city of 2,195 people about 13 miles northwest of Vancouver. No one's saying who made the fliers, complete with a profile shot of Otis and a disclaimer that the signs were paid for by the 'he will do better than the last guy committee.' Ridgefield's former city manager, Randy Bombardier, was placed on administrative leave in March, then fired after being accused of removing lead-based paint from City Hall without public safety or environmental precautions.

The reporter seems not to have tried to contact Otis or looked into campaign finance reports.

This is great though: "In an interview with The Columbian newspaper, Councilman Gary Holmberg said he'd publicly support Otis at Thursday night's council meeting."

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 03:41 PM

The Western states

This is a great, as-usual, very authoritative piece in The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) on the western states of Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and Arizona. The Dems think they can challenge, and maybe win there because of changing demographics (Latinos, and migratory Californians). Republicans say, 'Doubt it.'

"In the 2000 campaign, Al Gore spent little time or money in and around the Rocky Mountain states. On election day, the Democratic presidential candidate was nearly shut out in the region, carrying just New Mexico, by a mere 366 votes out of 600,000 cast. In 2004, John Kerry has a new view of the electoral map. This year's Democratic nominee has already made eight trips in total to Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico. On Friday, he'll return to the Denver area, opening a six-day trip across the country to accept his party's nomination in Boston. Mr. Kerry has spent $7 million on television in those four states, more than 10% of his advertising nationwide. Polls show Mr. Kerry with a lead in New Mexico and the potential to capture the other three."

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 03:36 PM

Who hasn't had this happen?

The Onion reports that the Secretary of Defense was recently humiliated when America's credit card was declined when the SecDef tried to buy some Boeing jets.

The Onion, just so you know, is a satirical newspaper, and one of Poliblog's favorite publications. Aside from copying news-writing perfectly, they lampoon everybody and everything:

"Sir, your card was denied," Martinez told Rumsfeld in a lowered voice. "Do you have another one we could try?" According to Martinez, Rumsfeld became flustered and insisted that the problem rested with Boeing's credit-card reader. "That card's good," Rumsfeld said. "Run it again." As Martinez went into a back room to run the charge again, Rumsfeld assured Hill that "there must be some kind of mix-up."

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 03:33 PM

Superman campaign manager

An interesting profile of Rep. Doc Hastings' opponent's campaign manager. Got that? A lengthy profile of the campaign manager. "He has run a national media network in Somalia, sold soccer players in China, managed a winning congressional campaign in Illinois and unsuccessfully hunted weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Poliblog is sure that Sandy Matheson, the Democrat challenging Doc, wouldn't mind a little more press for herself and a little less for her campaign manager, but whatever. This race could be a bellweather. It's a very right-leaning district, usually safely Republican. But Matheson raised a surprisingly large chunk of money last quarter, more than $100k, if Poliblog's not mistaken. If Matheson loses by less than than 10 points, it's a bad sign for Republicans statewide, like Dino Rossi running for governor and George Nethercutt running for Senate, because they need big margins in the Hastings district.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 03:30 PM

New Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream: Pants-on-Fire

We begin today in Spokane, where American liberals continue to make themselves relevant while elevating the debate. The AP's Chris Rodkey reports: The co-founder of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream is on the road, towing a 12-foot-tall effigy of President Bush with fake flames shooting out of the pants. Ben Cohen believes it is an acceptable way to point out what he calls the president's lies. White House spokesman Ken Lisaius said most people in America support Bush's policies, and that the president supports free speech.

Here's a photo of the touring effigy.

Sheriff Dave Reichert publishes his first-hand account next week of the hunt for the Green River Killer, which took two decades (the hunt, not the book writing, to be sure). Reichert is running for Congress as a Republican, hoping to fill Jennifer Dunn's vacant 8th Congressional seat, which covers much of the Eastside. He's running against a bunch of people from both parties, including a tech millionaire, a radio personality, an interior decorator and some state office holders (did Poliblog miss anyone?). The timing of the publication is a "coincidence," says the publisher.

Judith Billings, former Superintendent of Public Instruction from 1989-1996, will run against Terry Bergeson, the incumbent. Why oh why, Poliblog would love to know, is this an elected position? But nevermind. Poliblog knew Bergeson was in some trouble when the teachers' union, of which she was once statewide president, declined to endorse her this year. The state tests are screwy, and we're short of funds, Billings says.

Bloomberg News reports that Wal-Mart and local rival Costco are on opposite sides of another contest besides sales: politics. Costco gives to Dems; Wal-Mart to R's -- big time. Walmart, two-thirds of whose stores are in Bush "red" states, is the biggest supporter of Republican candidates of any corporation in the world. And a bonus: You can buy a case of soda, sorry, pop, for pennies on the dollar!

The New York Times reports on a John Kerry foreign policy adviser, Sandy Berger, being investigated for allegedly taking classified papers out of the national archives. He says it was all a mistake. Republicans are crying foul. Democrats are questioning the timing of the leak, coming as it does two days before the 9/11 commission releases its final report, which is expected to be a tad ugly for all concerned -- the Clinton and Bush administrations. But Bush is in office now, so he has more to lose. Are there legs to this story? Not in Poliblog's estimation, as Berger has already severed ties to Kerry, but it did change the subject for a couple days, and that's what it's all about.

The Times also reports that President Bush is ready to roll out a second term agenda, though no word on what it will entail. Money quotes from political scientists who study elections: "He's in a heap of trouble," says Georgetown's Clyde Wilcox. Maybe so, says Kathleen Hall Jamieson (who, Poliblog might add, claimed not to have enough "time" to talk to him two weeks ago): "The advantage he has is that the external world continues to forward factors that remind the public that he is the president," says the U. of Penn sage.
The story notes the fairly odd strategy of an incumbent getting after his opponent so early and so directly, rather than being above the fray. The president even got after Veep nominee John Edwards two weeks back. Referring to 1996, Doug Sosnik, an old Clinton hand, said, "The notion that Bill Clinton, as POTUS, would be attacking Jack Kemp is unimaginable," he said, referring to Bob Dole's 1996 running mate. We won't know if this strategy of going heavily negative worked until after election day.
More lata.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 08:55 AM

July 20, 2004

Database War

The Washington Post reports on the two parties' massive databases: Two volunteers out canvassing a neighborhood "are out to 'map' the political demography of this neighborhood, trolling in the service of a quasi-science called 'database targeting.' Houston's answers will bounce from Rutkus's clipboard to a computer in the state Democratic Party's offices here, and then 400 miles away to computers housed in the Democratic National Committee's headquarters in Washington. The Republican National Committee tends a similar information trove, dubbed Voter Vault."
You are being counted, and studied.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 01:05 PM

Unwitting fundraiser

A fun story from the Bellingham Herald. Someone played a prank on a Western Washington U. student, signing him up to host a Bush fundraiser: "Jonny Ursine was surprised to find out his home was scheduled for a Bush re-election campaign party. He was even more surprised when people started showing up outside. Ursine, a mathematics graduate student at Western Washington University, believes someone signed him up with the Bush campaign as a joke using a fake e-mail address. About six weeks ago, Ursine began receiving e-mails and phone calls from the Bush-Cheney campaign telling him that a barbecue fund-raiser was scheduled at his home. Ursine, a registered Democrat, called the campaign and told them it was a prank. Though a Bush campaign worker promised to take him out of the database, the e-mails kept coming until two weeks ago, he said. Thinking the problem was taken care of, Ursine forgot about it until the cars started showing up in front of his home on Brighton Crest Drive."

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 12:31 PM

Great visuals

Check out these photos from The New York Times, which are as cool as they come for political photo journalism. It's an interactive deal where the photog tells you about the shots. Incidentally, we'll have our own photo gallery soon.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 11:28 AM

Heidi, the govs (redux), Franken, the Holy Communion

Time flies when you're having fun.
"Yeah, even when you're not having fun." -- Larry David.

105 days until election day.

Warren Cornwall continues his profiles of candidates to replace Jennifer Dunn in Congress. The district includes much of the Eastside and parts of southeast King County. Heidi Behrens-Benedict ran unsuccessfully against Dunn three times, moved to run the first time for greater gun restrictions. The interior decorator painted her house once, never having painted an exterior, because she didn't like the color for an upcoming party. She's an unabashed liberal.

The Monorail could be headed for recall, as recall sponsors, who want to kill the Monorail, picked up another 7,309 signatures, giving them more than twice the 17,229 valid sigs needed to get the recall on the ballot.

Janet Tu reports that Seattle Archbishop Alexander Brunett said he would not automatically deny communion to those politicians who support abortion rights, but expect them not to seek it in the first place. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops had voted to leave it up to individual bishops and warned not to use Church teaching as a political tool. Yeah, God forbid.

Al Franken, the former Saturday Night Live writer and now liberal talk show host, has endorsed Mark Sidran, a former Harvard classmate, for Washington state Attorney General. His amusing endorsement letter says, "I have known Mark since I was accidentally admitted to Harvard in the late 1960's. Mark, who got in on merit and merit alone, was a classmate of mine, and has made something of himself. ... As City Attorney, Mark took on some of the most egregious corporate polluters in Puget Sound. I could name names, but I may be planning to run for public office in Minnesota someday, and why burn a bridge?...I could go on and on with the endorsements. But frankly, no one cares about endorsements."


Funny as it seems, the Franken endorsement could actually bolster Sidran's standing with the state's liberals. He got a bad reputation as Seattle City Attorney for enforcing civility laws.

And finally, the governors have left town. They chatted with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Clinton Chief of Staff Leon Panetta, Starbucks CEO Orin Smith, and some guy from Ford Motor Co., though not Bill Ford, about health care costs, which continue to skyrocket even as more people are without insurance.

The New York Times used the governors' conference to talk up how the Iraq war is affecting the governors' states. They're losing lots of National Guardsmen to the war, which could hurt western states especially during fire season.

As for the governors, some things worth noting: The extent of Republican dominance could be seen, and the extent to which the 90s, despite control of the White House, were largely a disaster for the Democratic Party. The farm leagues of the party were drained, while the Republicans were developing talent. The nation's agenda is controlled by many power levers, and state houses are an important one. Even the conference forum titles were a sign of Republican power: "Is there a case for Environmental Optimism," for instance. The well-coordinated Republican attack on Kerry Saturday is a sign of the Bush campaign's excellent organization and their smart use of surrogates. Haley Barbour and Bob Taft, of Mississippi and Ohio, respectively, present well and know a good sound byte. On the flip side, Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack is an impressive surrogate for Kerry, and one could see as he gave a presentation Saturday why Kerry considered him for the Veep. He's attractive, well-spoken and shows a command of issues and an ability to tell a story.

Nicole Brodeur reports that Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell agreed to introduce at the governors' meeting a resolution pushed by American Disabled for Attendant Programs Today (ADAPT). They were the people protesting, many in wheelchairs, for better home health care coverage, outside the meetings at the Westin. Rendell was definitely one of the more interesting governors in attendance. He's got a stomach that screams too many cheese steaks (He's a Philly guy), and a big, gruff, machine pol demeanor. He's the former chair of the Democratic National Committee and is a real playa in Democratic politics.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 09:09 AM

July 19, 2004

Cash, governors, ads, jibjab

Welcome to The Booth. Now on with it.
Alex Fryer reports this morning about how Sen. Patty Murray, being challenged this year by Rep. George Nethercutt, R-Spokane, became a big time fundraiser in the Democratic Party, a long ways from the former school board member's roots holding bake sales for her campaigns. More than half of all her donations come from out of state. "I have really wondered why someone would invest a lot of money into something like this," she says of the big donations from Wall Street and other biggies. Yes, what a mystery.

The governors are in town. In Sunday's paper we reported on how both parties used Saturday to attack the other party's presidential candidate. Poliblog was particularly impressed with the Republican attack, which was thematic, well coordinated, and featured some of the crispest blue suits and blazers to ever grace sloppytown Seattle.
A group of disabled residents continue to protest, calling for better home-based care for the disabled.
Here's today's schedule:
9:30 a.m. Town Hall Meeting, Governors Only. (What kind of town hall meeting is that?)
11:30: Governors-only luncheon.
2:30: Plenary Session: A consumer driven health care system in the digital age. Featuring Newt Gingrich, former House Speaker and Leon Panetta, former White House chief of staff for President Clinton, Orin Smith, ceo of Starbucks, and Allan Gilmour, vice chair, Ford Motor Co. Event open to media, governors, staff.
In other words, the governors have little interest in interacting with the public here in Seattle.

Poliblog himself has a story on a new virtual museum exhibit that lets you watch presidential campaign ads since 1952. It's way cool. Poliblog was a bit disappointed that Bill Moyers, he now of PBS fame, wouldn't talk about the 1964 "Daisy" ad that he helped create for Lyndon Johnson. The ad instilled fear of Johnson's opponent Barry Goldwater, who was perceived as a bit trigger happy. Perhaps Moyers, now so revered on the left as an activist journalist, prefers not to recall his days working as a hack for Johnson, while LBJ was busily ramping up the Vietnam War.
Also, check out Ronald Reagan's "Morning in America" ad, the top one on the Republican side for 1984. Pure genius, for whatever you think of Reagan. Check out the singing-dancing woman for Stevenson in 1952 and Nixon's 1968 ads. All quite entertaining.

Poliblog also has a bit about It's a really funny satirical song. Check it out.

Note our wire story about political books for kids.

In Sunday's paper, Janet Tu profiled the Rev. Joseph Fuiten, a pastor of one of the largest evangelical churches in the state. He hopes to sign up 60,000 voters, most of whom will be Republicans. Here's Fuiten on the Iraq war: "Fuiten believes the Iraq war is part of a larger, longer war between Christianity and Islam, instigated by Muslim extremists."
Republicans continue to say they're registering new voters in a way they never have before. We won't know if this is true or hogwash until after election day. If they've never done it before, there might be voters out there for them. But the thing about Republicans is, they tend to register and to vote on their own.

Also Sunday, Marc Ramirez reports on hip-hop artists also registering voters. Expect them to be Democrats. "Now, from voter-registration drives to agenda-forming conventions, hip-hop's energy is being harnessed to politicize the nation's young, a population notoriously detached from the electoral process."

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican and daughter of former Senator and current Gov. Frank Murkowski, is facing a tough primary battle, one reason Democrats think they might be positioned to pick up a seat here.
From The Anchorage Daily News: Mike Miller is taking on Sen. Lisa Murkowski in a new radio commercial on yet another issue aimed at swaying conservatives his way in the Republican Senate primary -- gun rights.

In The New York Times, David Halfbinger reports that Sen. John Kerry has set up a huge legal network to deal with possible recounts and election disputes. Republicans have done the same, though they seem less insistent about it.

Also, check out Stephen Crowley's cool multimedia feature on being a campaign photographer. Some great photos, too.

Dan Froomkin's White House Briefing in The Washington Post is always fun, though not always fun for the president. In his most recent column, he takes up the dump-Cheney question. It's not gonna happen.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 08:02 AM

July 16, 2004

Ketchup is not a vegetable

Teresa Heinz Kerry, Sen. John Kerry's wife and the heiress to the Heinz ketchup fortune, was in town yesterday as part of a two-day campaign swing, Beth Kaiman reports. She visited cancer patients at The Hutch and blasted President Bush for limiting stem-cell research. Nancy Reagan and Ron Reagan have also attacked Bush on this point, and Reagan will actually speak at the Democratic National Convention, pretty bizarro considering his family lineage. Does this hurt Bush's reelection chances? Has anyone ever voted based on a president's stem-cell record? Probably not, though last time Bush won Florida by 537 votes, so who knows?

Brian Baird, suspense novelist.
This from a press release sent out by Rep. Brian Baird, Democrat of Vancouver:
"Scenario: GOP Convention, NYC, September 2004
A large-scale explosion rocks the convention site during the presidential address - President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Speaker Hastert and the Senate President Pro Tempore, Ted Stevens are killed along with 100 GOP members of Congress.
What now?"
Apparently, Rep. Baird is spelling out doomsday scenarios to get Congress to put in place an emergency plan. Fair enough, but can you just work the legislation without these press releases, Rep. Baird?
Here's Chapter Two: "Scenario: September 2004, The day after an explosion rocked the GOP Convention in New York City killing President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Speaker Hastert, President Pro tempore Stevens, along with over 100 GOP Members of Congress. The House and Senate convene in special session to elect new leadership while simultaneously, Secretary of State Colin Powell prepares to assume the office of President. What next?"
As a colleague put it, Brian Baird strives for relevance. What next?

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 05:51 PM

July 15, 2004

Twinkies, governors

The most important political story of the day is not about gay marriage, dumping Cheney or wheelchaired protestors. It's about Twinkies, and the future of the "popular snack cake," as The Times Rachel Tuinstra calls it, describing it elsewhere as a "cake-and-cream confection." For its 75th anniversary, Twinkies is holding its own election, allowing the Twinkie-eating public to vote on the next design for the Twinkie box. Everett's Janie Brigman, 11, is a finalist, and she needs your vote to win the $40,000 scholarship. To culinary school? Well, Brigman doesn't say, but she has five siblings, who also plan to go to college, and Poliblog knows what that's like, so help her out and choose her design, which features a "gift-bearing Twinkie cowboy character named 'Twinkie the Kid.'" ( Only one vote per computer per day. Poliblog smells another Florida debacle! Given the Twinkie's shelf-life of 75 years, will one of the original Twinkies be in the 75th anniversary box? Rachel, keep us up to date on the Twinkie election.

America's governors come to town, though most likely not the cool ones, The Times Ralph Thomas reports. No Jeb Bush, no George Pataki of New York. AHHHHNOLD doesn't release his schedule until the night before the next day's events, so we don't know if he'll be here or not, though he just got back from Austria and he's in the middle of budget negotiations in near-bankrupt California, so Poliblog's guess is he won't be here. If he is, Poliblog will follow him around all weekend like a star struck teeny-bopper, giving him breathless coverage. Ralph reports that corporate sponsors have shelled out $2 million to stage the event, which is billed as a policy conference specifically about the baby boomers and the medical care crisis they'll be causing the rest of us. Some of the big sponsors include Amgen, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, Pfizer, Purdue Pharma and Bayer Health Care. Innuendo? Nope, never. There's also a bunch of fundraisers for both parties' governors associations, which then funnel money into campaigns around the country. Teresa Heinz Kerry, wife of Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, will be here, as well as famous Republican Newt Gingrich, once Speaker of the House and now rich lobbyist and policy entrepreneur.
Folks in wheelchairs plan to protest for better access to home health care.

Here's the schedule:

The Stranger's Sandeep Kaushik catches up on the governor's race, reporting that Christine Gregoire has tons more money than Ron Sims, though Sims likes his chances with the Dems-only primary in which they'll face off; Gregoire's campaign is "underwhelming," according to elections trade mag, The Hotline.

The Senate race up there is crazy, with a bunch of great candidates (meaning interesting, not smart or qualified). The Anchorage Daily News is covering it blow by blow, with lots of foibles. For instance, some D.C. group ran an ad against Tony Knowles, a Democrat and former governor. Republican Lisa Murkowski (daughter of the former Senator and now Governor Frank Murkowski) said she had nothing to do with it. A campaign coordinator for Lisa appeared in the ad, however. Oh, we weren't counting him, Murkowski's spokesperson said. Complete coverage:

Big news is the anti-gay marriage amendment failed in the Senate 48-50 on a procedural vote. Kerry and Edwards, the Democratic nominees, weren't there. Social conservatives are ticked that President Bush didn't seem to put his whole weight behind it, which likely wouldn't have mattered anyway. They're also angry that the podium at the Republican National Convention will be dominated by (social) moderates like Ahnold, Rudy and John McCain.

The New York Times reports on the long-running rumor about Bush dumping Vice President Cheney from the ticket. Poliblog's been musing about this for nearly a year, and was convinced Bush would replace Cheney ("health reasons") with Rudy Giuliani at the New York convention and all but guarantee his reelection, given that Rudy would carry New York and Kerry cannot win without New York. But as Harold Meyerson of The Washington Post pointed out, this creates an awkward situation for the Bush family in 2008, assuming Jeb runs. W would have to back Jeb against his own sitting Veep. Plus, dumping Cheney would seem weird, panicky. So don't count on it.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 10:04 AM

July 07, 2004


We're light on local politics, as the big news of the day is reaction to Mass. Sen. John Kerry, the presumed Democratic nominee for president, selecting N.C. Sen. John Edwards, known in his hometown in South Carolina as "Johnny," as his vice presidential pick. The News & Observer of Raleigh-Durham, N.C., gives you good background here:

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the story is yesterdays' New York Post, reporting in usual bullhorn fashion that Rep. Dick Gephardt was the choice. Other papers piled on, and this morning the Post made fun of itself:
Poliblog hopes to avoid the need for this kind of self-mockery.

Locally, state Republican Chairman Chris Vance says Edwards is a protectionist, meaning he favors tariffs (taxes) on foreign goods, which usually leads to tariffs on American goods sold abroad. Vance says protectionism would be bad for Washington's economy, which is so heavily dependent on foreign trade (Boeing, Microsoft, apples). Kerry is more of a free trader, though he skewed toward protectionism during the primaries. The Dems say they merely want to prevent jobs from going overseas.

The national papers resort to bios and analysis pieces that spout the usual conventional wisdom: People don't vote for vice presidents. As to why the press devotes so much space and attention to the selection, the announcement, and the obligatory bus tour that follows -- the papers leave that question unanswered. Everybody seems to acknowledge that Edwards brings balance to the ticket. He's smooth, southern and working class with a record as a trial lawyer representing people who were injured by corporations, hospitals and doctors and insurance companies. Kerry is northern and patrician and not a particularly good speaker. The paper that begins to bring some context to what Kerry is trying to accomplish is, typically, The Wall Street Journal:
"In tapping North Carolina Sen. John Edwards as his running mate, John Kerry has redoubled a key bet in his bid to win the White House: that middle-class voters are feeling an acute economic squeeze. The Kerry campaign considers that line of attack central to its case for replacing President Bush, even as the economy overall gains steam and Iraq keeps national-security issues in the headlines. Mr. Edwards, a fresh face that Democrats hope will appeal to younger voters, sketches out a picture of a middle America whose economic anxiety can't simply be wiped away with promising numbers on new jobs that are coming out each month. He argues that the new jobs pay less, debt burdens remain crushingly high and costs are soaring for health care and education."

Edwards drew big crowds during the Democratic primaries with a speech he perfected called "The Two Americas," in which he rhapsodized eloquently about the sharp differences between the haves and have nots. Conservatives said they were impressed with his delivery, if not with his message.

The LA Times Ron Brownstein, probably the best political reporter in America, has a slightly different take: If Kerry fools himself into thinking he can win in the south, he might lose resources better used elsewhere, Brownstein hypothesizes.

No VP candidate has won his home state since, arguably, Ed Muskie helped Hubert Humphrey win Maine in 1968. That's a long time.

Grover Norquist, one of the most important conservative activists in D.C., notes (beyond the fact that he hates Edwards' policies) that the selection of Edwards is the final nail in the coffin of organized labor's influence on the national stage and in the Democratic Party. His reasoning is that Rep. Dick Gephardt, long labor's friendliest ally, lost in the Democratic primaries, and was passed over for the VP choice, a trial lawyer selected instead. There might be some truth to it, but expect organized labor to be out in force on election day. In 2000, they're credited with playing a big part in the Democrats healthy election day turnout.

That's it for now. (Other than that the Mariners lost, again, though that's hardly worth noting anymore.)
More as news develops.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 05:20 PM

July 06, 2004


Edwards it is. Mass. Sen. John Kerry has chosen N.C. Sen. John Edwards to be his running mate.

Edwards ran a strong second in the Democratic campaign, impressing crowds with his charisma and his "Two Americas" speech, in which he detailed how America has become deeply divided between haves and have nots, those who can afford good health care, schools, safe neighborhoods etc. Edwards is the son of a millworker who worked his way through college and law school and went on to wow juries in personal injury cases, making millions. He beat Lauch Faircloth, an incumbent Republican, in the 1998 Senate race. Although fresh-faced, he's 51. The News and Observer of Raleigh-Durham has a six part profile, here.

Weaknesses: Look for Republicans to exploit Edwards' relative inexperience: just six years as a Senator. They'll also attack him for being a trial lawyer. R's hate trial lawyers because they think the lawyers muck up the American economy with frivolous lawsuits. They'll also capitalize on Kerry saying back in January that Edwards was still in diapers when Kerry got back from Vietnam, which is actually untrue. Edwards looking much younger than 51 could hurt him.

Strengths: Edwards is a great campaigner who connects with crowds, and especially single women, who Kerry desperately needs to win. He's also got a working class pedigree, which complements the patrician Kerry. And, he brings a sunny smile, which might contrast well with Vice President Cheney's usual grimace. On the issues, liberals like him, Ralph Nader having pleaded with Kerry to pick him. That shores up the base. Edwards could also, conceivably, help Kerry carry North Carolina or South Carolina (Edwards was born in raised in S.C.) or a border state Bush had counted on like Tennessee or Arkansas.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 01:00 PM

July 01, 2004

Glass houses, stones

We usually start with local stuff, but Poliblog, a Catholic, just has to show you this first, from The Washington Times: "A Catholic lawyer has filed heresy charges against Sen. John Kerry with the Archdiocese of Boston, accusing the Democratic presidential candidate of bringing "most serious scandal to the American public" by receiving Holy Communion as a pro-choice Catholic."
If convicted, Kerry will be bent over a wheel and rolled over hot coals. If his skin burns, he's innocent. If not, he's guilty. It's a joke people.
As for the Rev. Moon, owner of The Washington Times and self-proclaimed Messiah, judgment awaits him.

Murray and Nethercutt, and a hot summer of hot air.
Jim Brunner starts us off with U.S. Sen. Patty Murray huffing about Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie rallying for Murray opponent Rep. George Nethercutt. Gillespie's lobbying firm just took on Airbus, the anti-Boeing, as a client. Turns out, Murray was treated to similar $1,000-a-plate treatment from other members of Gillespie's firm a few months back.
Hard to keep track of all the lobbyists who raise money for you, isn't it, Sen. Murray?
Now, Nethercutt's spokesperson calls on Murray to return any money raised from lobbyists who have Airbus as a client. But why stop there? How 'bout lobbyists who represent companies that compete with Microsoft? (Ok, bad example, but you get Poliblog's drift.) This campaign is getting so heady and intellectual, Poliblog can hardly keep up.

The Times' Tyrone Beason reports on the former prez in town for book signings at a Costco in Issaquah and Elliott Bay in Seattle last night: "Bill Clinton's admirers gushed and in some cases leapt for joy yesterday...."
Judy Cowans got up at 3:30 a.m. to get in line at Costco.

The Times' Peter Lewis reports that Washington Attorney General Christine Gregoire, or her office anyway, is suing a Marysville company for violating consumer protection laws with their "unsubstantiated claims about breast-enhancement products it markets over the Internet." These include lotions, creams, pills and "Bust Tea," Lewis reports. Would Gregoire be bringing this suit if she weren't running for governor?

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 02:21 PM

 October 2005
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November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004

Go balloons! Go balloons!

JibJab update

Cheney, Kerry here, P. Diddy

Behind the Curtain


Strong stronger strongest strength strengther strengthest

Backyard Bloggers: still time to apply

Daily Show

The speeches

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Behind the curtain would like to thank Rich Meislin of The New York Times for compiling much of this list. The views expressed on the following web sites are not those of The Seattle Times, and The Seattle Times is not responsible for the content expressed on them.

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